This review aims to investigate the relationship between the health impact of whole grains mediated via the interaction with intestinal microbiota and intestinal barrier function with special interest on tryptophan metabolism, focusing on the role of the intestinal microbiota and their impact on barrier function. Consuming various types of whole grains can lead to the growth of different microbiota species, which in turn leads to the production of diverse metabolites, including those derived from tryptophan metabolism, although the impact of whole grains on intestinal microbiota composition results remains inconclusive and vary among different studies. Whole grains can exert an influence on tryptophan metabolism through interactions with the intestinal microbiota, and the presence of fibre in whole grains plays a notable role in establishing this connection. The impact of whole grains on intestinal barrier function is closely related to their effects on the composition and activity of intestinal microbiota, and SCFA and tryptophan metabolites serve as potential links connecting whole grains, intestinal microbiota and the intestinal barrier function. Tryptophan metabolites affect various aspects of the intestinal barrier, such as immune balance, mucus and microbial barrier, tight junction complexes and the differentiation and proliferation of epithelial cells. Despite the encouraging discoveries in this area of research, the evidence regarding the effects of whole grain consumption on intestine-related activity remains limited. Hence, we can conclude that we are just starting to understand the actual complexity of the intestinal factors mediating in part the health impacts of whole grain cereals.

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